First look at The Garden 2013

I started composting three years ago (or was it two?). I only saved my compostable scraps in the summer, when I could take a full bucket from under my sink and move it to the garden. It’s silly, I know, but I felt a sense of guilt throughout the winter as I tossed food scraps into the trash which were worthy of compost.

Last Fall, I bought a large trash bin and kept it on my patio. This alone was a huge risk as I often get yelled at by our Condo Association. I swear that they creep around my place at night, looking for violations. Technically, we’re only allowed to keep a grill and patio furniture on our patios. No summer towels, no bikes, no shoes. You get the idea. They have already threatened me TWICE with putting a lien on my mortgage for other infractions I may or may not have committed. Imagine what would happen if they found a trash can filled with compost on my patio?! I hid it well, behind the grill and shoved in a corner.

Last Thursday, I finished grading a mess of papers – my last big batch for the semester. It took me four days. My skin was turning gray, my eyes were glassy. I needed to get outside. Initially, I started small by sweeping out my garage but then I needed to keep moving. It seemed like a great day to move my trash/compost over to the garden. CAM00412.jpg

 It was crazy heavy but I like a good challenge! Every time I thought it was nearly full, it just started to do its composting job and the bin never actually filled. I took it over to the garden and dumped it in my actual compost bins – the whole slimy mess.

And when I got to the garden, this is what I saw-CAM00411.jpg

 You might not see anything.

I see a summer of possibilities.

I would have started weeding today as I like to get a jump start on stuff like that. “Train ‘em while they are young” and all that jazz. No weeds yet, though. I’m itching to get my seeds and to start them ASAP. I’m hoping to do all of my tomatoes from seed this year. I need to move the tomato cages to a new spot and probably the vertical gates too.
Oh, the planning is my favorite part!

Who am I kidding?! I love every part!

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GAPS after 3 months


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 I’ve been on GAPS for 3 months (13 weeks). I started on January 9, 2013.

Overall, my health has made major improvements which I find remarkable. I feel as though I have more energy, greater focus (which is really saying something), and an overall better outlook on life. I have less aches & pains, fewer headaches, and minimal cravings.

One of the things I really hoped that GAPS would fix is my hormones. I’ve never ever had a consultation about my hormones, but I knew that my inner struggles weren’t “normal” for most other people. For years I felt as though I was always angry, no matter how much self-talk I gave myself. The fact that I was so angry actually made me angry. I did not want to be angry but yet that’s where my mind went in its spare time. I can honestly say that after three months on GAPS, my anger issues have disappeared. I won’t lie, this is what I hoped for. I’d hoped that it was hormonal and was fixable with diet – and it was!

Currently, my favorite side-effect has been the weight loss! As of yesterday morning, I’ve lost exactly 15 lbs. What amazes me is that I’ve lost this much weight while eating tons of fatty animal products. Everything I cook is prepared in a generous dose of lard or butter. I eat beef, pork, eggs, almonds, and cheese nearly every day – sometimes multiple times a day. I did buy salad a few weeks ago (because I do so love a great salad) and it just didn’t hit the spot! I used to LIVE on salads! Ideally, I’d like to lose 12 more lbs but all in good time.

Two weeks ago I made a two lb meatloaf laced with beef liver. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raw cream. I have about 30 cups of raw cream in my freezer, saved in 2 cup portions. I used the cream for the meatloaf and then decided to use the remainder of the cream in my morning coffee for a week. To tell the truth, I was feeling a bit invincible, and slightly rock-star-ish, due to my fantastic progress. I didn’t think that 1/4 cup of cream would be a set back.

I was so wrong.

The cream started to mess with me in less than 24 hours. I was immediately bloated. I felt jumpy and out of sorts. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. I became sad for a few days and realized that this is how I used to feel – all the time! Of course, I thought it was some other food reaction but quickly realized that the only thing that changed in my diet was the cream. I didn’t want to believe that cream could mess with me. But, yes, 24 hours after I stopped using the cream in my coffee, I felt 100% better.

I guess I’m not a GAPS rock star – yet.

Additionally, I’ve been able to avoid getting a cold or the flu. While every one else around me (including the majority of my students) fell prey to germs, somehow I stayed above the fray. When I did feel a tickle in my throat, I drank fermented beet juice and more chicken broth. My symptoms never progressed.

If I make it to the end of April without getting a sinus infection (or similar ailment) this will -literally- be the first time in my life that I won’t get sick in April. In fact, I’ve not been sick since Labor Day Weekend, which is a new record for me.

I do cheat about once a week and I pick my form of cheating very carefully. Usually, the one thing I want more than anything is a Grande Caramel Latte – so that’s what I get. No regrets.

Last weekend I drank beer – too much actually – but felt no negative effects besides the obvious!! It was good to learn this because I’m quite tired of wine and warm weather is beer season, in my world. For the record, I didn’t intend to drink too much beer, but it’s hard to say no when a cold one is sitting in front of me.

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Pork Tenderloin

During my recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I bought a 2 lb pork tenderloin with the least amount of additives that I’ve ever seen! I was so excited! I proceeded to look for great pork tenderloin recipes and finally settled on modifying one, as usual.

Pork Tenderloin
2 lb Pork Tenderloin
1 pint of homemade BBQ sauce
1 onion, chopped
3 tsp garlic

Place ingredients in a crock pot on low for 6-7 hours.

 

porkdinnerI served my dinner tonight with yellow beans and sauerkraut.

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Chicken Curry Soup (GAPS)

This recipe is adapted from Health, Home, Happy.

Chicken Curry Soup
tallow, ghee, or lard
2 cups chicken, cooked & diced
1/4 Anaheim chili, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced (or orange or yellow)
smidge of ginger root, peeled and grated
2 cups stock
1 cup water

In a medium pot, saute onions, ginger, garlic, and pepper until soft. I also added some salt for seasoning. Add stock & water and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 20 mins. Add chicken and heat until warmed.

 

I’m actually using pastured turkey from Thanksgiving tonight. Still tastes great!

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GAPS Pumpkin Pancakes

This morning before church, I was complaining to my cousin Christine about how hungry I am all the time.

All the time.

I am hungry every 2 hours. Sometimes I’m hungry within minutes after eating a meal!

At first, I ate fruit to satisfy the hunger but soon realized that I just crave more sugar when I do that. A few days ago I started adding more protein to my diet to keep me satisfied longer, but I’m still eating 4 or 5 times a day.

Christine quickly ripped out a scrap of paper and wrote down this recipe.

2 c. almond butter
2 c. pumpkin (or butternut squash or acorn squash)
10 eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon, to taste
I also added vanilla because I love it so much.

Blend ingredients.

Fry in your favorite fat (not olive oil or margarine).
For a topping, mix together almond butter, coconut oil, and honey.
Makes about 24 pancakes.


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GAPS after two months

As of today, I’ve been on GAPS for two months (Jan 9-Mar 9)!

I feel fantastic!

Although, I just found out that people on GAPS should follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of our diet should be from broth, meat, vegetables, and fermented foods. 20% of our diet should be from fruit, nuts, and baked goods.

If I had to guess, I’d say that 30-40% of my current intake is fruit & nuts. This is because I am hungry every two hours and I only cook three meals a day. Yesterday I ate a banana, an orange, and two apples. I also had 2 ounces of nuts.

I started eating more fruit about two weeks ago which was around the same time that my hunger increased. I also have gained two lbs since I started eating fruit! Prior to that, I’d lost 13 lbs total which is a super nice kick back to GAPS.

In order to get back inline with the 80/20 rule, I think I should cook four meals a day or at least always have soup in the fridge. Call me crazy, but I just can’t imagine snacking on fermented beets between meals.

Overall, though, I feel absolutely wonderful and am ever grateful for GAPS and the impact it has already made on my health.

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Roasted Carrot Soup

People often ask, “What in the world do you get to eat on GAPS?!” after I tell them, “I can’t eat that. I can’t eat sugar, grains, or processed foods.”

Yesterday’s lunch-
Chicken broth
Burger with sauteed onions
Roasted Carrot Soup

Recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup (adapted from Health, Home, Happy)
4 large carrots, chunked
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 cup butternut squash, peeled & deseeded & cubed
2 cups summer squash & zucchini (mine was grilled last summer and frozen)
3 tbls lard or tallow
Salt & pepper & rosemary
2 cups stock
2 cups water

In an oven safe dish, pile the vegetables (save the summer squash & zucchini), dot with lard and seasonings. Cook for an hour at 300*. When finished, place all the veggies in a crockpot and cover with broth & water. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. I cooked mine on low for 8 hours and about half way through, I added the summer squash and zucchini. If you are using raw summer squash & zucchini then they should be cooked with the rest of the veggies.

Makes four servings. Pairs well with burgers.

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GAPS Breakfast Casserole

I found this recipe in the Internal Bliss cookbook – (and then I modified it!)

Breakfast Casserole
2 cups broccoli & cauliflower, finely chopped
1/4 cup cheese, shredded (cheddar or colby jack or whatever you like)
1 cup sausage, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
8 eggs, beaten
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350*.
In a casserole dish (with a lid) combine all ingredients except eggs.
Pour eggs over mixture.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until center is firm. (Baking time will vary depending on the depth of your bowl.)

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GAPS Acorn Squash & Pork Sausage

About a month ago I was told that the only way I can have pork sausage is to make it at home, which I did last week. One of the primary reasons I wanted to make pork sausage was because I heard about this fabulous meal and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Preheat oven to 375*.
Halve two acorn squash and deseed them.
Divide one lb of pork sausage into four.

In a 9×13 baking dish, place the acorn squash -flesh up- and fill with a spoonful of coconut oil (the coconut oil is not required but it sure is tasty & good for you too!). Then put 1/4 lb of sausage in the squash. Fill pan with about an inch of water and cover with foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork goes through squash with ease.

While the meal was cooking, I sauteed carrots & onions in lard. I also finished off the meal with fermented beets and a cup of bone broth.

Trust me, it’s absolutely amazing.

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GAPS Homemade Pork Sausage

For the last few weeks, my Mom & I have been discussing what it would take for me to make my own pork sausage. While on GAPS, I’m not allowed to eat store-bought sausage due to the ingredients in the mix. My two options are to either ask the butcher to make it for me and to give her a spice mix or to make it at home.

Mom called last week to say that Pork Shoulder was on sale at Meijer for 99c a lb! Later that day, I went to Meijer to check out the deal. I found a 9 lb pork shoulder and asked the butcher if she could debone* it for me. Yes! They did it for me at no extra charge. I also asked if this would make good sausage and the answer was Yes again!

Mom & I started to email each other sausage recipes, looking for one we liked. We also searched the internet for “how to make pork sausage” and found a very helpful website. Last night I put all of the bowls and the grinder outside in order to freeze the items. The pork was cold in the fridge and Mom came over at 11.

Within the hour we learned that when the tutorial says, “Make sure the pork is frozen because it’s easier” that we should follow directions. Our meat was not cold enough and did not process well. We spread it on trays, put it in the deep freeze, ran to the grocery store, made lunch, and tried again. The 2nd time, it worked like a charm.


After the pork was deboned*, it weighed 6.5 lbs. All said & done, we made 4.5 lbs of sausage logs and 2 lbs of sausage patties.

I am thrilled that it went as well as it did. It’s definitely a two person job, as both of us were busy the entire time. The mixture smelled divine and I’m looking forward to breakfast tomorrow!!

While the above link gives fantastic directions on how to make sausage, we modified a recipe from allrecipes.com -
6.5 lbs of pork shoulder
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup & tbsp & 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp & 1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp & 1.5 tsp pepper
3 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp and 1.5 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Mom cubed the pork while I made the spice mix. When both were done, I mixed the spices & pork and we chilled it for 90 mins. Then we put the whole business through the food grinder. After it was ground, I formed it into patties while Mom measured out the sausage logs.

*Mom took home the pork bones and is going to use them in her pea soup. Nothing was wasted.

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